Sunday, September 22, 2013

The End of the Affair

I watched Neil Jordan’s ‘The End of the Affair’ again recently, and inevitably I was thinking of Yash Chopra’s ‘Jab Tak Hain Jaan’. When the film was released, I was telling my friends, who’d care to listen, the movie is based on the Graham Greene novel (now, Wikipedia, sort of, confirms it). At least, the crux of the plot is similar. The girl in a made-for-each-other pair vows not to see her lover again if he only lives. The lover is presumably dead; in the original text and the film, following the bombing during WWII and in the modern retelling of the Hindi film, due to a road accident, but of course, in London. In both the cases, the God in the other end of the bargain is the Christian God, the Catholic one.

This is where, however, the similarity ends. While Greene’s novel and in turn, Jordan’s movie is, as the narrator himself confesses, about jealously, Chopra’s film is, as usual, a Bollywood study of unrequited love, which at the end becomes a triumph of love. And, instead of the Sarah’s husband in the original, the Bollywood film has another girl to love the hero, played by Shah Rukh Khan, an eye candy in hot pants for the audience, to heighten the tragic plight of the hero so that audience are all very happy when he finally gets the girl.

The Jordan film begins with Ralph Fiennes’s Maurice Bendrix writing in the typewriter, “This is a story of hate.” It begins with the hatred for Sarah, the great love of his life who left him to fulfill her vows. Seething with jealousy and hate, he hires a private eye to follow Sarah. Finally, he learns the truth and envisions God, for whom Sarah had left him, as his enemy. There is a Yash Chopra happy ending, but briefly, as it is God who finally wins, as Sarah dies, in the process making Maurice, a non-believer, acknowledge the existence of the Christian God, even if grudgingly. In the end, the story becomes a meditation on faith, and in an ironic twist, Greene even makes Sarah a martyr for love and almost a saint; she at least performs one miracle, healing a young boy.

In ‘Jab Tak Hain Jaan’, on the other hand, God and the entire promise to God plotline, remains a plot point, an artificial way of separating the lovers, so that we can witness how great their love is. There is no great tension, and whenever there is a friction, it is, in the tradition of a Bollywood masala film, loud and melodramatic, like the church scenes. Consider the subtlety of ‘The End of the Affair’: There’s only one church scene in the film. This is when the lovers reunite. There’s no talking to Gods in front of alter, for God’s sake. Yet, the tension is palpable. Here, God almost appear to be character, a nemesis so to speak. In ‘Jab Tak Hain Jaan’, he is just a mere prop.

The End of the Affair (1951) is a novel by British author Graham Greene, as well as the title of two feature films (released in 1955 and 1999) that were adapted for the screen based on the novel. Set in London during and just after the Second World War, the novel examines the obsessions, jealousy and discernments within the relationships between three central characters: writer Maurice Bendrix; Sarah Miles; and her husband, civil servant Henry Miles. Graham Greene's own affair with Lady Catherine Walston played into the basis for The End of the Affair. The British edition of the novel is dedicated to "C" while the American version is made out to "Catherine." Greene's own house at 14 Clapham Common Northside was bombed during the Blitz.

The End of the Affair is a 1999 drama film directed by Neil Jordan and starring Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore and Stephen Rea. The film is based on The End of the Affair, a 1951 novel by British author Graham Greene.

The End of the Affair is a 1955 film directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Deborah Kerr, Van Johnson, Peter Cushing and John Mills. It is based on the novel The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. It was filmed largely on location in London, particularly in and around the picturesque Chester Terrace. This version was made in black and white. The film was entered into the 1955 Cannes Film Festival.

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